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Adventures in South Korea: Horse Races

21 Sep

A few weekends ago I went to the horse race track in Seoul.  Getting there was really easy, line four will take you there and you just need to look for the horse race track station and go up exit two. The park itself is nice and by most Korean people it’s seen as an ideal place for date or a family outing which with all the cafés that serve beer and such it’s a valid use of it. The betting is great too the minimum is 100 won  about ten cents by US standards.

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I recommend this for a nice day or any time you just want to relax outdoors and look at horses.

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You can even buy grapes!

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Adventures in South Korea: Dakgalbi street

9 May

So May 5th is Children’s day in South Korea and as a teacher I benefited from kids not going to school on children’s day. I took this opportunity to go to Chuncheon a two hour bus ride away from Samcheok. Chuncheon is the place where Nami Island is located (I was unable to go this time because it rained), it is also the place where dakgalbi was first ever made (if you have been to Korea and have not tried dakgalbi you have been robbed of an awesome gastronomic experience).
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This is one side of dakgalbi street (it is actually more like an alley, but it is filled with dakgalbi restaurants so we will let them be a street). I would like to point out that right next to this sign is the entrance to a large underground shopping center that people should experience.

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There is a map of all the restaurant available and well we only tried three this time but we will go back.

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Also they like to have chicken themed things which why-not just take a picture with it all.

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The first place was a different type of dakgalbi i have never tried before and by looking at the picture you will notice the difference. This type of dakgalby is just chicken marinated in (an impossibly good) sauce (how do they make it I would like to know the secret to this sauce) and grilled over coals just like bulgogy.

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As side dishes you have a greens salad of sorts which contains green onions, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and other herbs (I just don’t know the names of them in English or Korean to be honest).

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Lettuce is provided to wrap the chicken you grill and cut (with scissors) and other things like your salad, kimchi, radishes, garlic, and gochujan sauce (it is given with almost any type of grilled food here and I am not entirely sure on the romanized spelling of it). What ever you put in your lettuce wrap depends on the place you go to because side dishes will always change.

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These are thinly sliced picked radishes and are an acquired taste but you won’t know until you try them won’t you?

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While that was not the dakgalbi we were expecting it was good and for only 11,000 won it is well worth going to try it.

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this the other end of the street and there are many advertisements for following festivals in Chuncheon, which include puppet and mime festivals (look them up).

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We also found a desert place near the street. it is a waffle on a stick with icream and whip cream on it and it is delicious for 3,500 won you get two waffles on a stick for an extra 1000 won you get four (your call from then on).

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Chuncheon is also the site of the very first super popular drama, Winter Sonata which launched Korean dramas as the leading dramas to watch in South east Asia and all over the world (just look at crunchy roll or drama fever most of them will be Korean dramas).

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SO that is that on Korean Dramas back to the food!

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Second dakgalbi place, this time it was more like we had experience before. The cabage, dok (rice cakes), sweet potato, sesame leaves and chicken in the awesome sauce cooked right in front of you.

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Sorry for the food porn.

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The side dishes inchoded kimchi, cold radish vinegar soup?, garlic, gochujan, and lettuce.

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at the end of the first part when you eat the chicken and the vegetables you leave some of it behind and order noodles or rice. We went for cheesy rice because it is always a good choice.

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and it was the best ever.

The next day a dakgalbi restaurant had this and I just had to go in it.(woomi dakgalbi).

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is a hungry nerd’s dream!

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They are also dakgalbi purist so no cheese here but the sauce has a ginger feel to it so if you like ginger come here.

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next after circling a couple time because we got too full of dakgalbi we found an ice cream fish place!

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They take a fish shaped cone and fill it with ice cream and fruit. Try it!

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Adventures in South Korea Japan Edition :Kyoto

7 Apr

So while living in South Korea is fun and is full of adventures and cultural experiences, there is one thing I am mainly angry about and that is that Korea lacks an understanding of Brunch or breakfast as I have come to know it. Which is why as soon as I saw that a brunch place was near my guest house in Kyoto I took my chances and ate there.

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After an amazing brunch I headed to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the shrine of a thousand gates (and much walking).

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The messenger of the god that this shrine was build for is a fox. And that is why there are so many fox statues around the shrine. The foxes are all dressed up also because of the New Year.  Each object the foxes carry is specific to a message the god wants to send (but you can look that up if you are interested).

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The gates are meant to be good for businesses which is why there are so many (they have definitely passes the thousand gate mark). The gates take you all the way up the mountain and the down through a cemetery where people who really benefited from putting up a gate now rest (because it is expensive).

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Here is the beginning of the cemetery (I did not make it all the way up the mountain because we had other places to go. However all of it was beautiful and kept that old time influence with the modern life that we know Japan for (there were automatic sliding door that looked like traditional door in the little shops selling things by the monks of the shrine.

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There will no doubt be more gates added to the trail but for now I like the colors and the contrast with the mountain.

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Next in the day was Toji, everyone was dressed up and I really enjoyed seeing the people in Komonos go by.

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Again the temple was in a mountain/hill which meant a nice but tiring walk (again).

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This Shrine was more commercial than Fushimi because it had restaurants and more things were being sold much closer to the shrine.

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If you do travel here make sure to get the Sesame ice cream ( I loved it as you can tell because I only remembered to take the picture after half the ice cream was gone).

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While getting all the way to the top may be difficult it is totally worth it because the view makes it so.

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Again, sadly doe to y timing all renovations were being done to the pagoda due to the coming new year.

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However the structures I was able to see were lovely and made up for most of it.

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Remember comfortable shoes are very important!

Adventures in South Korea: Jinhae (The Cherry Blossom Festival)

7 Apr

It is spring in South Korea and that means cherry blossom time! So I went to Jinhae to go to the famous cherry blossom festival held every year. This is serious business (you know how in the fall pumpkin everything hits the United States? Cherry blossom everything hits Jinhae). I had cherry blossom cookies, chocolate, late, lemonade, bread, swiss rolls, macaroons (actually they ran out of macaroons, but they looked pink and really goo!) and tons of cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

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But the story is not all cherry blossom color. At the beginning of out journey from Busan (Heundae to be exact) to Jinhae we were a group full of hope ready to see the cherry blossoms and dressed for a nice warm spring time day. The picture below is of us standing in a bus of a trip that takes an hour (yeah we knew this when they asked us if anyone wanted to stand on the bus, we also saw that the line to get on the bus was about the size of a Harry Potter premier). So we got on the bus and tried not to fall on any Koreans.

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Jinhae was all that we expected there were cherry blossoms in every direction and it all looked gorgeous.

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There was even some naked ladies art which seem a lot more artsy as it was surrounded by cherry blossoms,

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Then the rain started being from Portland it did not bother me and we were in line to get some of the cherry blossom everything I mentioned earlier. However we did run into some trouble getting a bus back to Busan as about a million people (and I am not exaggerating here, that is roughly how many people go to this festival also tried to get back to Busan). As my friends and I separated to get into the ticket buying line and a getting into a bus line both lines were the equivalent of a city block (unless you count the line for getting seats in the bus line in which case that would take over two city blocks)

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The line never changed size even before we got into the bus it just kept growing as people desperate to leave kept buying tickets and standing on either one of the two lines and buses kept rushing in and taking as many people as they could back to Busan. As my friend Jennifer put it it felt like being in the movie Titanic because there was water everywhere, we were soaking wet (as you may recall we were dressed for a warm spring day and an umbrella was ever so under appreciated at the beginning of the day and then they were sold out in all of Jinhae) and we just wanted to board a mode of transportation to dry land.

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So we finally did make it into a bus after maybe three hours of standing in the rain with no rain gear for about three hours (I was unable to move my hands or feel my fingers or toes). As we were on the standing line there were no seats for us except they did miss an empty sit which was able to take and then just fall asleep for a big chuck of the way back to Busan.

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Moral of the story if the rainy season is anywhere near, TAKE AN UMBRELLA or at least a rain jacket. If you arrive at a bus station and there is a line of about forty people waiting to get on the next bus (because the current bus is full and leaving) buy tickets right there and then. And one last thing tights are awesome and they dry quickly (unless the rest of your clothes is completely drenched in which case your tights will dry and remain wet at the same time) but do not sit on the train or next to people because you will get them wet also (because osmosis and your clothes are probably saturated with water). The last picture is of my camera fogging up due to all the moisture in the bus.